Mahamai folk risk lives daily to cross Mai river on boatsPeople of Mahamai area in southern Ilam have been risking their lives while crossing the Mai river on boats, especially during monsoon.
People of Mahamai area in southern Ilam have been risking their lives while crossing the Mai river on boats, especially during monsoon.
In 2016, eight people were killed when a crowded wooden boat capsized in the flooded Mai river. Locals say there is no bridge nearby so they use boats to get across.
“There is no alternative than to use the boats. Without these boats, the daily lives of people will be affected,” said Dipak Thebe, mayor of Mai Municipality.
The nearest suspension bridge, which is located 8 km away from Mahamai, is seldom used.
“Since the bridge is not conveniently located for all, most of us prefer boats to cross the river despite the risk,” said Chandra Paudel of Mai Municipality-8.
There are two boats being operated in Mahamai, one with a capacity of carrying 15 and the other of 26 people at a time.
Following the 2016 disaster, life jackets have been made mandatory for all passengers.
The Mahamai locals have long been demanding the government to complete the construction of a bridge that was started a decade ago. “We have even urged prominent leaders from our area, including former Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal and former Speaker Subas Nembang, to take our concern to the concerned authorities,” said Hem Bahadur Limbu, another Mahamai local.
“The bridge was started as part of the road project to connect Jhapa’s Domukha with Mahamai and it has not been completed even after 10 years.”